8 Ways To Get Above The Crowd As An Online Freelance Artist
Let’s face it, despite all the positive aspects and the unlimited freedom, being an online freelance artist does have its flaws. Grabbing the actual target market’s attention being one of them. There are literally thousands – if not millions of artists from around the world struggling to get their works noticed so they can sell their services via the internet. In most cases though, only a few of them succeeded.
Yes, the online freelance competition is fierce and sometimes even unforgiving. This is why in order to survive or to even succeed, you need to act now. It’s not going to get easier, not ever. It’s going to take a lot more than just a BFA in your hand to take on the world (wide web) and earn a steady stream of income online.
So read on, below are several ways (based on my personal experience) to get your works up on the surface, get noticed by more prospective clients and eventually gain more revenue.
1. Got talent? Great! Now let’s polish those computer skills!
First thing’s first. When it comes to digital art and design, raw talent is not everything. You have got to have all the necessary skills to make it work. If you are not computer savvy, you are way behind the others in this particular field. You also have to be very fluent in using some (or most) of the design softwares that’s relevant to your field. These skills can really boost up your artwork’s visual quality. Here’s a sad fact: really good artists without computer skills won’t last long in the fierce competition while the average artists with great computer skills will survive longer. In this business, only the talented and skillful artists prevail. So if you think you are still lacking the computer skills, you better start now and get yourself familiarized with the technology ASAP before you dive in any deeper.
2. Practice speaking (or writing) in English.
Let’s face it, English is still considered the most influential language used in the world (wide web). This means if you want to gain from this online business you have to learn to speak (or at least write) the language so you’ll be able to understand the job brief and to be able to deliver a great presentation of your work to your clients. Sometimes it’s not that simple, I know. Being born and raised in Indonesia, I know all the bitterness for not being able to speak / write English fluently. Heck my English grammar still sucks, but at least I can get my message across most of the time now.
3. Ditch your resume, show off your portfolio online.
Seriously, in the (online) graphic design business, only a few conservative guys still read personal resumes or CVs. If I was a prospective client looking to hire a freelance graphic designer via the web, I couldn’t care less about his / her long resume because it won’t tell me zip about his talent, skills or abilities. Instead, I will ask him for some visual proof by showing me his online portfolio. A personal website that displays his most recent works will do great. Yep, a website. We’re talking online business in this day and age here, so online portfolio showcase is a must! If you don’t know how or don’t have the time to design your very own personal website to show off your works, there are lots of free sites out there that you can register to and put up your works there for free. (Check out DeviantArt, Coroflot, FigDig, Carbonmade or Behance Network). This can be very helpful for beginners who want to look professional from day one.
4. Contests and spec works FTW!
As much as I object to spec works and contest sites now, I have to admit that contesting is a good way to polish your skills. At some point, it can be pretty addictive as well (at least for me). For an aspiring designer still looking to score his first online dollars, contesting can be a great way to start testing your skills and earn a few bucks while at it. Trust me, you’ll learn A LOT. You’ll experience first hand about how extremely good (or bad) other artists are, how commendable (or despicable) clients are and how clear (or confusing) a design brief can be. Furthermore, you can also increase your work visibility by winning some of those contests. Truth be told, I met some of my most loyal clients back from my old contesting days.
5. Join the community.
You can also make a name for yourself by becoming a member of a suitable online community and join the discussions. Make your voice heard, share your interests, ask for critics about your works, get feedback from the pros. There’s so much to learn by blending in with fellow online artists. You’ll be able to learn new tricks of the trade, get lots of useful tips to be successful in the business, expand your business relationship and gain new friends. Aside from joining the design forums and mailing lists, you could try Dribbble, Forrst, DeviantArt or Behance.
6. Be a social media geek.
Let’s say you’ve got yourself a professional website up and your online portfolio set and ready – all you have to do now is to promote them. There are numerous ways to do this, and most of the successful methods involve diving in to the social media frenzy (some hints: tweet your creative thoughts with Twitter, promote your site with Facebook, grab some valuable connections via LinkedIn, show off your design process with YouTube, etc). So go ahead and familiarize yourself with the social media world as this can be very fruitful to your online career in the future.
7. Sell stuff online.
The internet is a vast place. If you look hard enough, you’ll see that you can sell almost anything through the internet these days, including many forms of art: paintings, illustrations, photography, drawings, web templates, logos, animations, videos, sounds and music. Here comes another debatable point. I know there are lots of you guys here who don’t support the idea of selling your artwork so cheaply through these online agencies, but note that these online agencies usually have thousands of visitors browsing through their websites every day. I’m a contributor myself to some of the biggest online microstock agencies, and I sell some of my unused vector illustrations there. The income I make from them each month hardly pays my monthly bills, but my work’s visibility has grown tremendously. As a result, I have nailed dozens of freelance projects and gained many loyal clients who contacted me via those sites. Not a bad deal, really.
8. Blogging is trendy!
Sharing can also be a really good way to earn you some recognition. Blogging is the simplest and best way to do this. You can write about your personal experience, about how you tackled your latest project, create a tutorial or just share relevant stories about art and design. By writing good blogs, you can also attract prospective clients in the business. If you are consistent in your blogging and readers like your blog, it will definitely boost your site’s search engine ranking.